Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Taylor Swift Syndrome

Taylor Swift is ruining our lives.

Aside from dominating the iTunes Top 100 and therefore ruining my browsing pleasure, she is seriously and negatively affecting society. How you say? I'M GLAD YOU ASKED!

This girl, for some reason, has a great deal of power. She's like a baby Hitler for tween and teen girls, and no matter how much I protest, even some of my own gal pals. She pulls them in with her poppy (not country-y) songs and relatable lyrics, because let's face it, who hasn't been 15 and heartbroken? And if you grew up in the South, it's unlikely you don't have "Tim McGraw" in your music library, even if you're a 20-something who wants to teach the world about the dangers of Miss. Swift and her teardrop-covered guitar.

But these tunes are all propaganda for this darker, deeper thing that scares the shit out of me. T. Swift has been dubbed this cute little girl next door, but if Janis Ian taught me anything, it's that Taylor Swift is a mean girl. She is a mean girl in nice girls clothing, and she's doing a really good job of tricking a lot of people into believing that clothing is the real deal. That trickery is dangerous. That trickery makes girls everywhere believe it's okay to act the way Taylor acts. And the way Taylor acts is manipulative, disrespectful, and far from nice.

Of course I haven't sat down and discussed philosophy and ASOS with the girl, but I don't need to. I don't need to because she airs her dirty laundry via song, even if that means airing other people's dirty laundry, too. And trust me, you can tell a lot about a person by what they're willing to discuss publicly.

Taylor is of this breed of person who doesn't mind sharing her whole life with the world. That's fine to an extent, because she can choose to share whatever she wants with whomever. But when other people come into play, when other people's private lives get thrusted into the public eye just because they intersect with ol' Swiftys, a line gets crossed. When Taylor does things like discuss another woman's sexuality or directly name men in her songs, she is taking away the right of those people to choose what they want or don't want to share with the public. And that's bullying. That's disrespectful. That's mean.

That deeper, darker thing I mentioned earlier? The scary-as-hell thing that Taylor has done? She has created this environment where she is essentially giving the OK to put anyone who slights you on blast, simply for your own selfish wants, but turn around and say "Oh, but I'm hurt, I couldn't possibly share any of the blame, and it's totally fine because I'm the victim!"

Wrong. So wrong.

People are going to hurt you, my little ladies. You're going to get shit upon and jerked around, and probably even worse. But unless there is a true evil to expose – a molester, a rapist, a beater – you're not helping anyone, most of all yourself, by putting people on blast. You're just prolonging your own torment, creating it for others, and disrespecting the boundaries of other human beings.

Your private life is an amazing, beautiful thing. It's something you get to keep close to you and you alone. Once you give it to someone else, you taint it. You can choose to share things with the person you love or even thousands of people if that's your bag, but the choice should always be yours, and you should never feel like someone has taken away your right to privacy. You should never, ever feel like you're allowed to take it away from someone else. And you should never, ever, ever let Taylor Swift Syndrome let you think it's okay to be an asshole just to make yourself feel better at the expense of one or ten or hundreds of other people.

There might be a fleeting sense of satisfaction Taylor's way, but there is such a prolonged, beautiful, peaceful bliss in caring about other people's feelings, letting things go, and keeping your dirty laundry in the nice, warm wicker basket in your bedroom at home.

Don't let Little Miss. Swift pull that polka-dotted, J.Crew sweater over your eyes. Being a disrespectful dick isn't cool, no matter how rockin' your bangs are. In the words of some much better songwriters, let it be.


  1. Wow. Never seen this much hatred for T Swift before. Pretty brutal. Question though: When you say talking about another woman's sexuality, are you talking about the song 15? Because I think she had that girl's permission and she said she was "honored" and even appeared in the music video. Is there another circumstance you're talking about?

    1. While I don't personally like Taylor, this syndrome is more about people I have personally come into contact with. Taylor does it as well, though, so she's a good metaphor for this type of behavior and a perpetuator of it. It truly is a form of cyberbullying to put someone else's personal issues (without asking!) on a wildly public platform like Facebook, YouTube, a blog, etc. Whereas people like you and so many of our other lovely work/classmates have platforms where you can talk about personal issues without hurting other people, there are too many others I've seen who are irresponsible. Like "things that if posted on a more professional public platform would be considered libel by the court of law" irresponsible. I've seen a lot of people incredibly hurt by this type of behavior, and it's really heartbreaking.

      Re: the woman's sexuality reference... In her song "Better Than Revenge," Taylor writes: "She's not a saint, and she's not what you think. She's an actress, She's better known for the things that she does on the mattress." And even if Taylor was hurt by the female subject, it's not the right response. It just reminds me of something middle schoolers would have written on a note and passed around, not something a 23-year-old adult would do. And again, it can't help but remind me of the hurt I've seen in people I care about because of words EXACTLY like that. I just think someone in her position should stop the cycle instead of making it worse.

  2. Ohh girl. A couple of years ago I was firmly planted in Taylor Swift's court. Serious fangirl. But one day I started noticing the really phony "all this for me?" expression she would greet her audience with at live performances - a look of awe like she couldn't believe so many people were there just for her. Right. And when the album that really earned her reputation for exposing her relationships came out, I didn't buy it, but read enough reviews of its content to get a good feel for it. She allgedly encoded boyfriends' names in the printed CD lyrics, and I read about that very line you quoted regarding "the mattress". It got under my skin, and I was disappointed. From that point on, her star burned a little less bright in my eyes until it dulled to where it is now- about as shiny a dirty nickel.

  3. Well, hmm. I can see where you're coming from. It also makes me question whether I should ever write songs at all. You're supposed to write what you know, and unfortunately most of what I know is unpleasant. I wouldn't do the thing where I put capital letters in certain spots in the book to give people ideas about who things are about, but if I were to actually write songs about things that have happened to me and those particular people heard the song and knew I wrote it, they would recognize themselves.

    I guess I'm a bit too ill to know where I really stand on this issue, but I'm glad to hear your opinion! Food for thought...

    1. T, I know for a fact that you'd handle personal songs with grace! Like I said, there are ways you can absolutely write a cathartic song about someone in specific without disrespecting privacy. TRUST ME, you are far from the kind of person this is about. Write away! I can't wait to listen <3

    2. Me too, T! Your experiences, personality, and writing are not at all the same as TSwift. I can't wait to see/hear what you create.

  4. whatever! i knew you were trouble when you walked in, rachel!

  5. I absolutely love this!